The visual arts have been around since prehistoric times when cave drawings were used as a form of communication and became a source of historical record. As time evolved, art became a way to embellish and decorate great halls of royalty and religious structures, pottery and utensils, clothing, furniture, and architecture. Art is an expressive form of design and communication that is often misunderstood as a mere painting on a wall. As art teachers in the twenty-first century you will have the opportunity to help your students learn just how vital art is in every aspect of our modern life.
While many subjects taught in public schools now follow the new Common Core State Standards, art is not a core subject and therefore is left up to each district and state as to how it is approached. This often leaves it open to the teacher to design the curriculum and have the ability to have more freedom to teach what they want. They will, however, have to follow certain standards set by the state. These standards are usually available on the each state’s Board of Education’s website. Choosing a career in art can be exciting and the opportunities for public school art teachers in the future remains a challenge.
Find Art Teacher Career Info by State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Art Teacher Job Description
The details of an art teacher’s job description are defined by the grade of the students being taught as well as the school district’s policies. There are, however, certain day-to-day things that you can expect to perform as an art teacher no matter where you teach. These are some if the routine things to expect:
- Develop your lesson plans according to your state standards
- Create lessons that may be required for adaptive education or students with special needs
- Develop classroom standards for behavior and acceptable social norms
- Create substitute lesson plans
- Attend budget meetings with other members in your department
- Collaborate with other teachers for integrative lesson planning
- Determine what your schools discipline policies are
- Know how to prepare for disaster drills, safety inspections, and lock downs.
- Attend all-staff meetings
- Meet with students, parents, counselor, teachers, and others in special group meetings to develop individual lesson plans
- Attend after school functions
- Participate in field trips
- Organize, clean, and decorate your classroom
- Order classroom supplies
- Take attendance and prepare progress reports for grades
- Hold open house and back-to-school night
- Hold parent/teacher conferences
Teaching Art Concepts
Art concepts and skills will develop over time. It starts as a child first identifies colors and shapes and draws all over the walls with crayons. It then can progress into more sophisticated work of analysis and investigation and using tools on the computer. Your work as an art teacher will depend on the grade level you teach.
K-8th Grade Standards: From the time a child enters kindergarten, to eight grades, art should be a part of their education. They will learn about basic shapes, color, and designs in the early years. As they move up in grades, they will learn to define their viewpoints and investigate how their interpretation of art impacts their lives. They will learn about art from cultures other than their own. They will also learn about how to create art as an expressive form of pleasure, communication, and design.
High School Standards: High school standards require that a student has moved beyond being able to execute a design. They are now expected to have a conversation about art and to think critically about the concepts that make up the idea of art and design. Students will also be introduced to a higher level of technology and art at the secondary level. The following are possible examples of expectations:
- Process, analyze, and respond to sensory information through those things that are unique to the arts
- Be able to identify and be able to use the principles and elements of design
- Be able to research and analyze an artist’s work and then write a research paper on that work
- Understand and employ the use of technology and art techniques
Art Teacher Career Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2012-2022 all elementary teaching jobs are expected to grow by 12%, and high school teaching jobs will only be half that. The projection is based on teachers that are scheduled to retire in the coming years. They are expecting that certain areas will have a teacher shortage, but these areas seem to always experience shortages. These areas are inner-city schools and more rural areas. Some school districts will have incentives for new hires to encourage teachers to work at these schools.
As far as subject matter, the arts in general tend to be the first subject eliminated when there are budget cuts. Some states have requirements for art in their schools while others don’t. As a new art teacher, if you look for schools with these requirements it may offer a better chance for steady employment and longevity.